From our EU Representatives: Social Economy Europe Network

In Strasbourg we celebrated the European Day of Social Economy Enterprises co-organised by the European Economic Social Committee, the City of Strasbourg and the Eurometropole, and the French Ministry for the Ecological and Solidary Transition (High Commissioner for Social and Solidarity Economy and Innovation, Mr. Chidtophe Itier).

The day was filled with a full programme on how to improve the EU ecosystem for the social economy. Workshops looked at the role of the Social economy in the social market economy; the Pact for Impact initiative and its commitments for Europe; and the Social Economy as a driver to co-construct ecological transition in cities and regions.

Right after Parliament voted for the new Commission, Nicolas Schmit Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, intervened during the EU Day of Social Economy enterprises. As a long standing supporter of the social economy, Nicolas Schmit made it clear that the social economy because its capacity to contribute to the ecological transition, to create quality jobs, and reduce inequalities has to play a key role in EU initiatives such as the Green Deal, the European Pillar Social Rights and broadly showed his willingness to collaborate with his colleague Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, on topics like industry, single market entrepreneurship and SMEs.

Nicolas Schmit stressed that the social economy has got to play a central role in the fight against climate change, that, because of its social and solidarity dimension it is the best placed to leave no one behind.

European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) President Luca Jahier expressed his joy for being back in Strasbourg five years after the Summit “Social Entrepreneurs: Have Your Say!”. President Jahier reminded that the last legislature was extremely important as well as a missed opportunity to renew a European policy for the social economy because of a lack of political willingness. The EESC President stressed that this is the moment to advance towards European policies for all social economy actors, without any excuses. Luca Jahier said: “Lets renew the social economy intergroup and lets advance towards an EU policy for the social economy (…) the EESC will continue to carry out its task of giving the opinion of civil society that actively calls for a European action plan for the social economy”.

The Committee of the Regions President, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, said that social economy is the fabric of cities and regions, an economy engaged with local development that never delocalises and is at the service of communities, always offering solutions to the challenges and needs of today. For this Mr Lambertz said: “The Committee of the Regions supports the European Action Plan for the Social Economy put forward by Social Economy Europe.”

In parallel to the EU Day of Social Economy Enterprises, the Monitoring Committee of the Luxembourg Declaration had a meeting chaired by Christophe Itier, High Commissioner for the Social and Solidarity Economy and Social Innovation, with the participation of Yolanda Valdeolivas, Spanish State Secretary for Employment, Gabriel Bastos Portuguese State Secretary for Social Security, and high-level representatives of the Italian and Luxembourgish Governments.

In this meeting Christophe Itier passed the torch to the Spanish government which will lead the group in 2020 – a strategic year for the social economy. Spain was the first EU Member State which adopted a Social Economy law in 2011, followed by Portugal, France and Romania among other. Furthermore, the government adopted a Social Economy Strategy 2017-2020 and is committed to revitalise the consultative body for the promotion of the Social Economy formed by stakeholders such as CEPES, regions, and academics.

For 2020 Spain aims to widen the number the MS participating the monitoring committee boosting bilateral cooperation (the Spanish government already has a MoU with the governments of France and Portugal), and promote an ambitious EU agenda for the Social Economy. To start with, the Spanish government is organising a side event on the Social Economy in the framework of the UN Climate Change Conference of December 2019 in Madrid (COP 25). The selected European Social Economy Capital for 2020 will be announced in the coming weeks.

At the end of the day, the Strasbourg Declaration on the Social Economy was adopted and presented to Commissioner Nicolas Schmit. The declaration calls for a European policy initiative for the Social Economy and for the renewal of the European Parliament Intergroup on the Social Economy.

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